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03-31-2017, 01:17 PM   #1
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What is your shooting style?

First off let me share what "I" have done and what methods I have used in my ever continuing photographic learning. Hopefully some of the other members of the forum will also chime and and share what "THEY" do as well.

The idea here is to sort of compare goals and styles and maybe learn a little from each other.

I started taking photos about 5 years ago. My first camera was bought sight unseen--a K5 and later I moved to a K3 and soon I will move to a K-1.

Of course I have experimented with different things (Macro etc) but one thing I have done from day 1: I have never used any of the modes on my camera. I literally cannot recall ever doing anything but manual. I took both of my cameras from the box, put em on M mode and neither ever got switched. I suspect that I will do the same with my K-1 once I get around to buying that one.

There is a method to my madness though.

I have made a conscious effort to learn the fundamentals of photography. I have over time basically learned where the buttons are that I need, how to interpret the metering of the camera, and overall just how my camera will behave in different situations. As a result I have focused on learning how things behave (in a technical sense) with my gear. I have focused on where the dials are and basically in relatively quick amount of time I can move my aperture and shutter speeds around and then be able to relatively interpret the light metering I am getting. Pretty much I am hoping to have the camera become an extension of my hand. I am better by far now than before but it's always a learning process.

(On that note I have never used any other metering other than center point either).

Over time I have gotten incrementally better at focusing on light and subject matter and focused more on the content of my shots. Obviously nothing is perfect. I still screw up highlights and overexpose or whatever but I am getting better.

About the only real 'feature' that someone here turned me onto that I now use religiously is 'the blinkies'. Fantastic stuff and instant feedback about exposure.

Other than that I really do not rely too much on the features of the cameras I have owned.

What about you guys? How much of the actual 'modes' or technical stuff do you heavily rely on? Might be different modes of metering on to using the green full auto thing on your dial. What do you do and why? Do you have a method to it or am I the only weird one here?

Lastly if you were going to suggest for me to try something new (in terms of features or whatever) that would or could help in my current style what would it be?

(Whoever you are that suggested that I turn the blinkies on I will forever be in your debt! )

I am always on the lookout to expand my horizons so share what is YOUR preference and let's compare notes.

03-31-2017, 01:20 PM   #2
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I don't think I've ever seriously used shutter priority mode. I use program mode quite a bit when I'm shooting my kids out doing active things because I want to concern myself first with composition, though occasionally if the light is difficult or I don't want surprises with certain flashes or manual lenses with flashes I will revert to Av at f/8 or thereabouts, or even manual mode.

For more deliberate shots, and for almost anything involving a manual (especially a Takumar) lens, I am usually to be found in manual mode.
03-31-2017, 01:57 PM   #3
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I love the Pentax hyper program mode (mostly locking aperture but sometimes it makes sense to lock shutter) and use that the most. Next most used mode is M followed by Bulb (to get the timed very long exposures on the K-1). Don't seriously use anything else at the moment - although playing with the user modes at the moment.

Certainly happy with using manual mode as used to use it with a Canon AE1 for many years and also I used to shoot quite a lot with some Takumars (in M mode). But have not used the Takumars for a while now as I'm focusing more on my composition skills which is the most challenging aspect photography for me (well that and post processing where I have the most to learn).

I kind of came full circle in that I had a period where I used almost exclusively manual mode. I think its a useful thing to do for a while to get a really good understanding of exposure. That said I am finding the K-1 gives me plenty of latitude with exposure and if its not perfect you can usually make up for it in PP with little downside - which allows me to focus mostly on different compositions.
03-31-2017, 02:31 PM   #4
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I shoot Av most of the time, then M. In Av I used EV adjust and ISO is allowed to float some but within restraints. I tend to use full matrix metering modes most but spot metering some of the time does come into play. I shoot both planned and 'walk about' mode. I - like DCShooter above - use center point and recompose for 99% of my shots. I do this because I grew up on manual cameras with split screens so the norm was - put the split where you want critical focus, set the focus and then recompose. I do not use back button AF much. I have been experimenting with it. I think it might be a good user mode - the only time it really plays for me is shooting moving subjects like birds at a feeder.

I've been shooting for 40+ years. I shot a lot of film - a lot of film. My dad was in the industry; worked for Canon and Pentax as manufacturers reps. His best friends were reps for Nikon and Minolta and others. I shot medium format and 35 film mainly but liked 35 more. When I finally crossed into digital SLR's I picked Pentax and recycled my AF lenses and manual lenses from my last film camera the PZ-1.

I've shot zone, I've let the camera make decisions, shot sunny 16, loony 8, etc. I tend to like non-moving targets more than moving ones but I am trying to improve there. I have let flash remain a mystery until lately.

03-31-2017, 02:47 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
My methods are fairly old fashioned. 90+% of my shooting is done in A with ISO and EV adjustments all done manually. The rest, including all my macro is almost exclusively done in M. Occasionally, I will use bulb, but that's about it. I also almost always center point focus and recompose for everything except BIF/Sports. For landscapes, I'll do a 3 or 5 shot exposure bracket.
I am pretty much the same. My first SLR was a Minolta X-700. I bought that because it had a fancy program mode, but I just never really used it. Since that time I have mostly used aperture priority in some flavor (e.g. with or without auto ISO) with every camera I have had.
03-31-2017, 03:00 PM   #6
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As for the feel of the photographs I make, I'm told that my style is soft, feminine, and fairly intimate. I don't use a lot of negative space and use many tight crops to bring the viewer closer to the subject. But I also incorporate environmental aspects into my shots too, so it's not all "movie crops."

Technique depends on what I'm shooting. I shoot models 90% of the time with my camera. That's all done with fill flashes and other lighting; my camera is set to M and I use an external light meter to measure flash:ambient ratio (a big one--look to get 30-50%) and determine exposure settings. I use neutral density filters to deal with backlit situations and incorporate environmental aspects of my location into my shots. See instagram below.

When I'm doing sites or travel stuff, I usually use Av mode. I also use TAv mode inside to take advantage of the shake reduction features and minimize my ISO. If stuff is moving, Tv mode is useful to make sure I have enough shutter to freeze action.

My focus technique is reliant on my knowledge of plane geometry; I look at planes and angles and use that to guess where a good spot to focus is when I can't focus directly over her eyes like I desire. I use Live View sometimes but it's not so good for most of my photography because of the mismatch between flash and exposure preview.
03-31-2017, 03:28 PM   #7
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P mode for 95% of it. M when I use the T&S 17mm. Have to experiment with add-on flash a bit. I know where the EV button is and use it when needed. Evaluative metering. Mostly interested in composition. Specific DOF is not too important in my stuff, but will use A occasionally.
03-31-2017, 03:29 PM   #8
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I shoot mostly in Av mode, and occasionally in M or TAv.

The rest is dictated by the kind of shot.

For portraits it's usually Av, thin DOF, reflector and/or speedlights+umbrellas for fill. Lots of backlit shots. Shooting mostly handheld on K-1 or 645D. Preferably outdoors but not always. Natural settings are my favorite.

For landscapes it's almost always on a tripod. More 645D use here if I didn't need to walk/ride/ski too far or K-1. Usually the morning or evening golden hour. Stopped down for as much front to back sharpness as I can get. Av or M modes. I try to find lightplay between the sun and my compositional elements so I love backlight and shiny or translucent things. I think a lot about composition and try to get shots of all my ideas while the light is good. I try to shoot the entire time the light stays good and then delete what didn't work out (back at home so I can properly evaluate). I was a watercolorist in the past and try to give as much thought to my composition as I did when painting. I use HDR a little but only when the DR is just too great for a single exposure.

For action I use TAv or M. Sometimes with fill flash mounted on camera (HSS). If I had to ski or bike to the location I'll use the K-3 because it's easier to carry. I almost never do this with the 645D, that system is just too big and slow. I try to compose nice landscape images doing this when possible and then add the action if there is time to do that.

03-31-2017, 03:43 PM   #9
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For "normal", not my bird photography, TAv mode.
For me it's just an updated more intuitive and thus faster M mode and I use it as such.
I think photography has been waiting for some form of auto ISO since it's beginning 160 years ago and TAv just completes the exposure triad..

Last edited by wildman; 03-31-2017 at 03:55 PM.
03-31-2017, 04:12 PM   #10
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I use Sunny 16 in direct daylight, which is actually f/11 at 1/125 at ISO100 (or reciprocal settings) where I live. If there's no direct sunlight, I incident meter with my Sekonic L-308S. If using an incident meter would be socially inappropriate, I take a spot reading off the palm of my hand. For a sunrise or sunset (which I rarely shoot) I'd take a reflected reading off the sky facing away from the sun.

I try autoexposure occasionally, but I find that I'm so busy monitoring what the camera is doing that I stop paying attention to the actual scene in front of me. So basically I use a DSLR as if it was a Spotmatic.
03-31-2017, 05:38 PM   #11
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While I shoot a little bit of everything, my most frequent shots are landscapes. I shoot almost exclusively in TAv mode. I like to adjust shutter speed and aperture based upon the specific shot, and I just check the camera-determined ISO to make sure it's acceptably low, generally 800 or lower for a fairly bright setting. I now pay more attention to the aperture to control depth of field than I used to. For shutter speed I generally follow the rule of 1/focal length or faster, but with the shake reduction on my K-1 I can shoot at a pretty slow shutter speed without blur. In spite of all the times I've heard people say that serious landscape photographers always use a tripod, I rarely use one. I frequently pixel peep to check sharpness and I'm not seeing any signs of needing a tripod in my pictures. However, I do take a tripod anytime I expect to shoot with a shutter speed that slow enough to rule out a hand-held shot. At one time I was shooting a lot of sports, and I created a User Mode just for sports to avoid forgetting a key setting. I use exposure compensation a lot more than I used to, as well as the histogram in play back. I rarely shoot RAW, yet another violation for serious photographers, but I find I only have a need for raw on those rare shots where I have to underexpose and then bring up the dark areas in post-processing. I've made fairly large prints from carefully managed JPEGs and they have been totally satisfactory. I tend to dislike post-processing as I use a computer all day for my job and the last thing I want to do is labor at the computer over a picture. Having said that, post is necessary for a subset of my shots but I try to keep it quick, i.e. just a few minutes per shot normally. I use in-camera processing and built-in wifi to resize shots and transfer to my phone or tablet to post on social media like Facebook and Twitter. I plan to expand into more astrophotography, specifically Milky Way shots, but I need to get to a darker area first. I also plan to try pixel-shift soon to see how I like it. I use the TPE app on my phone to plan shots (most commonly sunset / sunrise / moon shots) and I also use a depth of field calculator app at times. I also want to do more with neutral density filters and very long exposures. I hope to continue learning and improving for many more years.
03-31-2017, 05:56 PM   #12
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M, Av or TAv depends on the situation, very occasionally Tv.
03-31-2017, 06:42 PM   #13
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It's situational with me also. Anytime I use a tripod it's done with Manual. Off the tripod M, Av, Tv, and Tav. Tv when using a longer lens or whenever I want to keep a shutter speed up, Tav when it's getting dark and I want that speed, but more DoF than a wide open shot would give. Av when I don't have the time I need and there is good light..
03-31-2017, 07:21 PM   #14
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I think it's great that you have the discipline to go the manual route to learn the principles of photography. It's too easy to let the camera do all the work, not learning as much in the process. That being said, as long as you understand those principles, any automation you choose to use in the future will be purposeful, with full knowledge of what your resulting image will be.

I've been shooting since the late 70s. When I got my first SLR (Pentax MV), I shot in Aperture Priority, and later in Program mode up until the late 80s, where I went completely Manual (Nikon FM2n). It was also here that I ceased using zoom lenses and when to primes. I continued that way until 2004 when I went digital. Now I shoot almost exclusively in Aperture Priority (with manually set ISO), primarily because I know what I want my depth of field to be, and then I make any exposure compensation on the fly. Yes, I could still be shooting completely manually, but by setting the aperture and ISO manually, I'm happy to have the camera make the shutter speed setting for me. It's faster, but it's still purposeful.

I guess what I'm saying is that my style changed here and there according to what I had learned. Perhaps your style will change organically as well, as you learn more about photography, more about yourself and more about what you enjoy shooting.
03-31-2017, 08:42 PM   #15
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On my Pentax bodies, it's AV and M for me. I shoot a lot of vintage lenses that are M42 and either Auto/Manual or Preset, with the occasional PK-A lens and PK-AF lens. I don't recall ever using AUTO or any of the presets -- at least intentionally.

On my Sony A6000 mirror-less body, it is almost exclusively M, unless I happen to mount the only Sony E mount fully automatic lens I own (Sony E50/1.8) -- then it's AV. Typically it has either an M42 or PK adapter rendering any lens fully manual. I love the EVF and seeing the resulting affect of my changes in real-time.

Last edited by ripper2860; 04-01-2017 at 11:23 PM.
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